Pacific War Museum

by MPI Traveler on September 1, 2011

National Museum of the Pacific War

Fredericksburg, Texas

My Fredericksburg trips have been
getaways to the Texas Hill Country complete with a stay at local bed and
breakfast, shopping up and down Main Street, and good German food.  This past April, I was in town with several
friends and we wanted something to do that all of us could enjoy.

Street view of the Entrance to the National Mu...

Image via Wikipedia

Immediately, I thought of the
National Museum of the Pacific War.  We
had driven by the impressive building on the last trip and I was determined to
see it.  Going to a “war museum” does not
sound like fun, but this museum is very different.  Fun is not the word I would use to describe
it, but mind blowing and awe inspiring come close.

Fredericksburg is the birthplace
of Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet during
World War II, and this museum, dedicated to all who served, offers three venues:  Admiral Nimitz Museum, a Battlefield Tour,
and the National Museum of the Pacific War.
We chose the NMOTPW first and the exhibits begin as you enter with a
minisub and flags of all the nations who participated in the Allied effort.

The Pacific War, for me, was
something from a history book or an old war movie, and I was not prepared for
the immediate impact this place has.  The
museum designers deliberately made it accessible from an historic point of view
laying out the state of the world, the run up to the war and then bringing you
to the heart of the conflict with the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  You live the experience:  the frantic teletype communication, the
panic, chaos, sirens going off, flames burning on the decks of battleships and
then this awful silence.  You hear
President Roosevelt’s speech before Congress and then the war unfolds in
sections, year by year, until the atomic bomb is dropped and victory is
declared.  Again, the designers mimicked
the “fog of war” by demanding your attention at every turn; with skillful use
of map tables showing the battle before you, voice overs from veterans telling firsthand
accounts, film footage of landings, and numerous artifacts and their
descriptions fill cases.  I noticed a few
people sitting on benches trying to process it all.  Each island battle is profiled in detail with
interactive exhibits and a list of Medal of Honor recipients.  It is a powerful, sensory experience from
beginning to end and it requires time to do it justice.

Fortunately, your ticket is good
for 48 hours, and we came back a second day to complete the main museum and
then toured the adjacent memorial garden and its wall of honor.  I was surprised and happy to find a picture
of one of our neighbors, Admiral Corwin Mendenhall there.  Further down is a Japanese Tea House and
peace garden, a gift from the Japanese in tribute to Admiral Nimitz.

You will see all kinds of people
here, particularly veterans and when you do, you should make it a point to
thank them.  What they did is movingly
preserved here in Fredericksburg and I urge you to experience this incredible

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